When you have a worrying health problem, and visit a medical
professional, it is hard not to feel a sense of relief. It is hard
not to feel like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders. Unless
they are rude or the news is very bad.
It’s natural. It’s automatic. You feel a lump somewhere. You go to the
doctor. She says, “it’s probably benign, but we’ll run some tests just
to be sure.” You’re relieved that it’s probably OK. You feel like you’re
in safe hands; you trust that your doctor knows what to do. You can
relax because it will all be taken care of. You don’t have to figure it
out on your own. And you feel very grateful to the doctor. Even if the
lump turns out to be malignant, you’ll know the doctor will work to
maximise your chances.
When you’re sick, scared, confused, desperate, or trapped, and someone
offers help, they are your lifeline. You trust them, you feel like
someone is looking after you.
Put simply, when we are in times of crisis, and there seems to be
nothing we can do, we turn to faith. We need something to hang onto.
Our only hope is medical professionals, so we put our faith in them.
And that is exactly what it is—faith. Far too many times, I watched a
medical professional be out of their depth, but I didn’t see it, didn’t
want to believe it. I had this hope that what they were doing was guided by
hundreds of similar cases and what worked best. I felt they had some
hidden plan, something they weren’t telling me, and I trusted it.
Hidden plan. Yep, that’s faith for you.
I knew what I wanted. I knew what I needed. I knew what wasn’t working.
But when I asked them for help, they replied with answers that
contradicted all that—or no answers at all. And I willingly submitted.
I felt I should swallow my pride and anger. That’s faith for you.
When I came back to the real world, I remembered that the same thing had
happened last time, and the time before, and their answers didn’t help.
But maybe... maybe it was part of a longer-term plan that would work
Each time I lost a little faith. But whenever I switched to a new
medical professional, I gained faith again. A new relationship, new
ideas, renewed trust.
This has happened both with diabetes and with mental health. With
diabetes I don’t generally feel there’s a secret plan, but I used to
have faith that they knew what they were talking about, and that their
failing to acknowledge things I was saying was an indication that I was
in the wrong. With mental health, apart from two decent people I saw,
there was never any... advice or guidance. Just questions and questions.
It felt like they were gathering information. They were making notes.
Surely it was leading somewhere. Surely the information would be used
for something. It never was. It was just their approach to ask questions
and let me find my own answers. I have no need for that.
It’s happening again. I’m visiting a mental health professional, and
for the last few visits, I’ve been waiting for the next phase of his
plan. What plan? I bet there is no plan. I’m waiting for Godot.
Sound familiar? Don’t fall for the “secret plan” thing. The medical
professionals don’t do it to you. You do it to yourself. They have no
idea that you feel that way!
But, if they are clearly out of their depth, and they don’t admit it;
if they avoid your questions or give you surface-level answers, find
someone else. Now.
If that’s not possible, then empower yourself. Read, connect with other
people who share your illness. Your medical professional can still be
helpful, especially if you know what you want and are willing to stand
up for yourself. That can be hard, but a healthy level of anger can
help. Don’t let faith stand in the way of your health.
It was actually while writing this post that I realised I’m wasting time
and money right now on a psychologist who is not giving me what I need.
It doesn’t mean he’s bad at what he does, just that it’s not appropriate
for me. So I’m ending that relationship.